By Staff of Zoom In Korea – Following Trump’s Senate briefing on North Korea this week, Korean American activists and allies in the Bay Area held their own “people’s briefing” outside Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office on April 27. They called for de-escalation of military tensions between the United States and North Korea and urged Feinstein to take a peaceful and pro-engagement stance on the issue. In a highly unusual move, Trump called senators to a White House briefing on North Korea on April 26. The administration called for tighter sanctions, increased funding for missile systems in Hawaii and Australia, and reiterated that all options, including military action, are on the table. “Feinstein claims that North Korea poses an existential threat and is the number one threat in the world,” said Bay Area activist IO Sunwoo, “I ask Senator Feinstein and the weapons manufacturing lobby that contributes to her office and all the lawmakers in Washington DC how they can dare comment on existential crises when they are in the business of mass destruction.”
By Glen Ford for Black Agenda Report – If the United States were not a superpower, it would be the joke of the planet, a nation whose government tells the most outrageous and ridiculous lies — and may actually believe them — and whose corporate media report those lies as gospel truth. The latest whopper comes from the mouth of James “Mad Dog” Mattis, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, who claims the Russians are providing weapons to the Taliban, in Afghanistan. The charge is insane. If there is one major power in the world that has consistently fought against Islamic jihadists, in Afghanistan and everywhere else, it is Russia. And, the major power most responsible for the rise of the Taliban and other jihadist outfits, is the United States, which teamed with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to create the international jihadist network in order to force the Soviets out of Afghanistan, almost 40 years ago. Despite that history, beginning in 2009, the Russians allowed the U.S. to use Russian airspace to supply American troops in Afghanistan. It was a vital lifeline for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, which could not be adequately supplied through Pakistan. The Russians were hoping that the new American president, Barack Obama, would make an honest effort to improve relations with Moscow…
By Richard Moser for Counter Punch – The “McCarthyism” of the 1950s was the first modern wave of coordinated social control. Truman stoked the fear and hatred of communism to serve foreign policy, but soon, in the hands of the FBI and unscrupulous politicians, it was turned against domestic dissent. The establishment decided that some ideas were so dangerous that American citizens did not have the right or capacity to think through them for themselves. The government would do the thinking for us. Dissent was equated with treason, and it was not until the hard fought battles of the civil rights movement that dissent was once again seen as legitimate. It’s worth remembering that Martin Luther King was widely accused of being a communist. Starting in the mid-50s, the FBI’s COINTELPRO program attacked dissenters. While the civil rights and black power movements were the primary targets of violent repression, almost all social movements were surveilled and disrupted. Today, protestors face escalating penalties, police violence, surveillance, and intimidation. Particularly since Trump’s election there have been a host of proposed laws that aim to criminalize first amendment rights of free speech and assembly.
By Danny Haiphong for Black Agenda Report – The Trump Administration’s decision to conduct tomahawk missile strikes on a Syrian Arab Army airfield prompted activists in the US to hit the streets in protest. Protesters marched and spoke out against the airstrikes, which killed over a dozen Syrian soldiers on April 6th. The strikes come amidst intense pressure on the Trump Administration to abandon his campaign promises to ease relations with Russia and end regime change policy in the Middle East. In the days prior to the strike, Trump removed Steve Bannon as a formal leader in the National Security Council. Then, an alleged chemical weapons attack hit Idlib province, prompting President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to reverse their position that the future of the Syrian government rested in the hands of the Syrian people. Once again, the anti-war movement was put to the test. The Western left struggles with the question of war because its ideology is rooted in the social relations of imperialism.
By Vijay Prashad for AlterNet – A few years ago, I asked a retired Iraqi Air Force officer what it felt like to be bombed periodically by the United States in the 1990s. Whenever US President Bill Clinton felt irritated, I joked, he seemed to bomb Iraq. The officer, a distinguished man with a long career serving a military whose political leadership he despised, smiled. He said with great lightness – ‘When our leadership said something threatening those words itself were taken to be terrorism; when the United States bombs, the world does not even blush.’ To me this is an intuitive statement. I was thinking about it as I watched the parade in Pyongyang (North Korea) to celebrate the birth of Kim Il-sung. The imagery from North Korean television was grand – the vast Kim Il-sung Square packed with soldiers as the massive arsenal of North Korea was paraded past its leadership. On twitter, amateur arms experts gave a run-down of this undersea missile and that trans-continental one. It was breathtaking to watch the performance and feel the anxiety in the Western media that North Korean would launch an attack on someone, somewhere.
By Jason Ditz for Anti-War – Pentagon officials have been making clear for weeks that they are eager to directly join Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and have excitedly laid out plans for deeper involvement in the conflict to the rest of the administration, centering on joining the invasion of Hodeidah, a Red Sea port which is where most humanitarian aid enters the country. Hodeidah’s vitalness to the already shaky aid supply to northern Yemen isn’t sitting well with aid workers, or even with State Department and USAID officials, who were quick to note that cutting off Hodeidah to the northern Yemenis would lead directly to a full-blown famine. Officially, the Pentagon is just denying the famine risk out of hand, claiming that the invasion would be “clean,” and that they could deliver the port to the Saudis in just a few weeks. The assumption is that the aid would resume immediately, though in practice the reason Hodeidah is the only port for the rebel north is that the Saudis have prevented aid from moving through their ports into the north, and with Hodeidah would be able to do so even more.
By Thomas Mountain for Counter Punch – The USA, according to Defense Secretary “Mad Dog” Mattis, he who ordered the use of chemical weapons in Fallujah, Iraq, is about to take a major step towards direct intervention in support of the Saudi Arabia war on the Yemeni people. According to Jeffrey St. Clair, editor of CounterPunch, this war has already seen 90,000 Saudi airstrikes on Yemen, or one every 12 minutes, 123 a day for two years now. With direct US military involvement it will only get worse for the USA has been limiting its involvement to fueling, arming and target selection for the Saudi military. The UN and the international media claim only 12,000 or so deaths in Yemen but this just doesn’t add up. If there have been 90,000 airstrikes that means that only one Yemeni is killed for every 8 strikes? They must take us for idiots, or more likely, just to ignorant and brainwashed to know better. One airstrike is a big deal, for it involves the use of several thousand kilograms of high explosives, enough to incinerate an entire village. And then there are the cluster bombs in their thousands, and the hundreds of markets bombed…so if only 3 Yemenis have been killed per air strike then we are talking upwards of 250,000 dead Yemenis and counting.
By Mark Nensel for ATW – US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) searched approximately 4,600 electronic devices, or 0.008%, of approximately 58 million incoming international air passengers and crew in the first six months of the US government’s FY 2017 (October 2016-March 2017), according to CBP statistics released April 11. The figure represents a 57.6% increase in the number of electronic devices searched during the six-month period compared to approximately 2,900 devices searched on incoming international air passengers and crew in the first six months of FY 2016. Compared to two years ago, the number of electronic devices searched has more than tripled. CBP said its increase of electronic device searches corresponds to how the agency “adjusted its actions to align with current threat information.” “Electronic device searches are integral in some cases to determining an individual’s intentions upon entering the US,” CBP deputy executive assistant commissioner, Office of Field Operations, John Wagner said. CBP said its searches have resulted in evidence helpful in combating terrorist activity, child pornography, export control violations, intellectual property rights violations and visa fraud.
By Justin Raimondo for Anti War – The sixtieth anniversary of the “end” of the Korean war saw President Obama attempt to rescue that classic example of interventionist failure from history’s dustbin. Addressing veterans of that conflict, he declared: “That war was no tie. Korea was a victory. When 50 million South Koreans live in freedom, a vibrant democracy…a stark contrast to the repression and poverty of the North, that is a victory and that is your legacy.” This is a fairytale: it wasn’t a victory, or even a tie: the US public was disenchanted with the war long before the armistice, and Truman was under considerable pressure at home to conclude an increasingly unpopular conflict. As for this guff about “democracy”: whatever the US was fighting for, from 1950, when the war broke out, to 1953, when it ground to a halt, democracy hardly described the American cause. We were fighting on behalf of Syngman Rhee, the US-educated-and-sponsored dictator of South Korea, whose vibrancy was demonstrated by the large-scale slaughter of his leftist political opponents. For 22 years, Rhee’s word was law, and many thousands of his political opponents were murdered: tens of thousands were jailed or driven into exile.
By Staff of Tele Sur – According to the Bolivarian leader, the U.S. government wrote up a coup scenario for opposition leader Julio Borges. A day before opposition leaders convened more protests in Caracas calling for the ouster of Venezuela’s government, the country’s leader has accused the United States of working with right-wing leaders towards a coup. “The U.S. government, the State Department has given the green light, the approval for a coup process to intervene in Venezuela,” President Nicolas Maduro said, speaking from the Miraflores Palace. Maduro said that security forces had arrested an “armed commando group sent by the opposition in order to attack the mobilization called by the right-wing for Wednesday to generate violence and deaths in the country.” An investigation has been opened to determine who is behind the plan. According to the Venezuelan leader, who also pointed to a U.S. State Department statement issued Tuesday evening warning of an “international response” should “peaceful protests” face repression, the U.S. government wrote up a coup scenario for opposition leader Julio Borges.
By Peter Symonds for Information Clearing House and WSWS – Just days after launching its criminal cruise missile attack on Syria, the Trump administration has provocatively authorised the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, together with its full strike group of guided missile destroyers and a cruiser, to waters off the Korean Peninsula. The move is a direct military threat to North Korea, which was at the top of the agenda in talks last weekend between the US and Chinese presidents. An unnamed US official told the Financial Times that the deployment was designed to be a “show of force.” The carrier strike group had taken part in joint US-South Korean war games but was heading south for port calls in Australia before being ordered to turn north from Singapore.
By Sam Husseini for Counter Punch – Many are claiming that Trump is being inconsistent in illegally attacking the Syrian regime with cruise missiles. After all, he had been saying the U.S. should focus on defeating ISIS, and now he seems to be going after Assad. But contradictions from Trump are a dime a dozen. A closer examination shows a deeper pattern of remarkable consistency in U.S. policy toward Syria that is far more critical than the perennial contradictions of politicians like Trump. To summarize U.S. actions and non-actions in terms of direct publicly announced U.S. air attacks targeting the Syrian regime: In 2013, when Assad was losing the war, Obama refrained from strikes that may well have ended his regime.
By Diane Randall for FCNL – This week’s abhorrent chemical weapons attack was an act of unspeakable violence against civilians, and we are heartbroken over the deaths of Syrians, including many children. The Trump administration’s escalation is not the solution, and will only cause more killing and suffering for Syrian civilians. The U.S. should fully support the ongoing investigation of the chemical weapons attack and work with the international community to bring the perpetrators to justice. In all decisions about the U.S. course of action, policymakers must recognize that years of direct U.S. military intervention, support of extremist armed groups, and weapons shipments to anti-government rebels in Syria have only added fuel to the fire and put Syrian civilians in greater danger.
By Claudia Assis for Maeket Watch – Raytheon referred questions around costs to the U.S. Navy’s unmanned aviation and strike weapons program, which did not immediately return a request for comment. The missiles used on Thursday likely cost the U.S. military around $1 million, but the latest versions of the missile that would replace those could be more costly, depending on size of the order and other factors, said Loren Thompson, a consultant and chief operating officer of nonprofit Lexington Institute. President Donald Trump indicated the possibility of a policy shift on Syria during a press conference on Wednesday, after a chemical attack left dozens of Syrian citizens dead. Where may Mr. Trump be heading? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.
By Jeff Desjardins for Visual Capitalist – There was no shortage of cuts proposed in Trump’s budget for 2018, which was released earlier this week. However, one of the few departments that did not receive a haircut was the Department of Defense. If the proposed budget ultimately passes in Congress, the DoD would be allocated an extra $54 billion in federal funding – a 10% increase that would be one of the largest one-year defense budget increases in American History. To put the proposed increase in context, the United States already spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined. Meanwhile, the additional $54 billion is about the size of the United Kingdom’s entire defense budget. With over half of all U.S. discretionary spending being put towards the military each year, the U.S. is able to have extensive operations both at home and abroad. Our chart for this week breaks down military personnel based on the latest numbers released by the DoD on February 27, 2017. In total, excluding civilian support staff, there are about 2.1 million troops.